back to article Google's Privacy Budget doesn't add up, says Mozilla CTO - amazingly enough

Google's Privacy Budget, a plan to reduce the amount of information available in Chrome as a defense against browser fingerprinting, runs the risk of performing poorly, of breaking websites, and of creating a new tracking mechanism. These are the concerns of Mozilla CTO Eric Rescorla, who recently published his analysis [PDF] …

  1. HildyJ Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ultimate goal

    "Our ultimate goal is to build a solution that restricts fingerprinting effectively without compromising key website functionality . . ."

    What Google neglects to mention is that the key functionality is to sell whatever information they have to as many advertisers as possible. If they're the only one with the information, more's the better.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Ultimate goal

      Indeed. I'm not entirely clear how restricting fingerprinting could compromise site functionality at all. By definition, fingerprinting only gives information that isn't actually required - it can only be used for things that aren't important enough to actually ask explicitly, otherwise you'd need to log in to an account or something similar. Fingerprinting is only required for things that you don't want to ask the user, usually because you don't want them to know you're following them. If a site breaks when that is blocked, the problem does not lie with the blocking.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Ultimate goal

      The only reason Google is ever a champion for privacy is its it to their own advantage.

      They give precisely 0 fucks for your privacy.

      Ask Timnit Gebru if you dont believe me - fired the second she even suggested threatening their profits by whoring your personal data.

  2. IamAProton

    User Agent

    User agent is one of the big players in fingerprinting. Ideally it should be entirely removed, perhaps replaced with something related to the type of device (computer/tablet/etc. assuming is needed) rather than all those details about bowrser and OS that shouldn't by anybody's business.

    If websites need to detect particular features they can certainly do with JS, they do not need to know I'm running Linux on a 64 bit cpu with whatever 'point' release of the browser.

    At home I run an agent spoofer extension on FF that rotates UA strings (just because i feel like), but given the sadly low user base of FF they should do it by default.

    A bunch of the fingerprinting properties can be automatically tweaked 'just enough' by the browser and you will always appear unique while not losing any functionality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: User Agent

      On the other hand if all FF users hide they're using it, it will officially disappear from the web and sites will even more focus on Chrome compatibility.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: User Agent

        <blink>Best viewed in Internet Explorer 4</blink>

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
        Angel

        Re: User Agent

        Firefox should issue a free Chrome plugin which as a background side-effect switches useragent to Firefox.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    How much tracking information

    i.e. all the fun stuff that isn't just cookies and scripts, happens in private mode windows? I'm starting to think of opening all new tabs as new private windows, but I don't know how much sharing Firefox does between instances.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: How much tracking information

      I guess tracking goes on like always. After all they are fingerprinting your computer, so even if you fire up a completely different browser, they'd still recognize the computer it's running upon. To escape fingerprinting you'd need to change computer and IP address (Internet connection), which is a lot of hassle for everyday use.

      "Private mode" prevents website traces to be stored locally (cache, cookies), not your computer from being recognized out there. It's use is to hide your visiting porn sites from your (computer-savvy) spouse, not to avoid websites from recognizing your computer... Check this: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/common-myths-about-private-browsing

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: How much tracking information

        Yeah, the critical comment there appears to be "Websites and Internet service providers can still gather information about your visit, even if you are not signed in.

        Sadly it doesn't say what information they can gather.

  4. tiggity Silver badge

    Or alternatively...

    Allow me to set user agent text that is used.

    Allow me to disable / whitelist* transmission of various information, be it screen height, installed plugins etc.

    i.e. give me a bit of control over what my browser tells web sites about me then I can stop fingerprinting as just end up with lots of people disabling everything possible and using reagreed user agent string and fingerprinting privacy is done..

    * I'm sure there's now a PC alternative for this - if you have one then mentally replace my terminology with it as all these new replacement terms just don't lodge in my memory as I'm too old & my memory is crap these days.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Or alternatively...

      > whitelist* ...

      * I'm sure there's now a PC alternative for this

      2 approved phrases as at <timestamp> are:

      1. racistlist

      2. PatriarchalTotalitarianAbusiveCapitalistSupremacististlist

      istlist for short

  5. Tolka

    "Whitelist" alternative

    "Allowlist"

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: "Whitelist" alternative

      "Allowlists are lovely. Their soft hooting in the night, their big eyes. Did you know that they can fly _completely silently_? And aren't the babies so cute! I'd love to go to the environment one day; I do so much protesting for it I think I'm about entitled to by now, don't you think mummy?"

  6. Tree
    Holmes

    GURGLE wants to see your privates

    You gotta show it to google, but our wants and needs must be hidden from the competition Hide it from everyone else. They couldn't make their profits without tracking us and can make more if they are a monopoly,

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021